My Charcoal, My Chicken

My Charcoal, My Chicken

My Charcoal, My Chicken

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.

The battle began in the grocery store.

Should I buy the leg quarters? Do I have what it takes to grill the chicken? No one but me would be around to validate the worthiness of the grilled chicken — I would have to completely trust my own opinion. Would I tell myself the truth, or would I convince myself it tasted good when it actually didn’t, just to make myself feel better? Why was it so difficult for me to feel like I should just buy the damn chicken and give it a go?

Because I’m not the grill master. I’m the soup master. I’m the salad maker. I’m the one who steams vegetables and if necessary, BAKES the chicken.

God grant me the courage to change the things I can.

It would be just plain silly to go home and journal, pray, and meditate on such a simple decision. So I bought the chicken and some charcoal.

I felt disconnected from the charcoal after about two minutes. The fire started, but it didn’t last. I tried to relight the coals to no avail. Well, I thought, maybe this is just how coals are supposed to work. Maybe they look like this for a while, and then they turn white. After about ten minutes, I felt downright wounded. The coals were half white and half dark, and not generating much heat. I shuffled the coals around so maybe the hot parts would ignite the not so hot parts, waited a few more minutes, and then put the chicken on the grill.

Then the anger came. Five minutes of grill time produced very little change to the chicken. I turned the chicken over, because maybe when the fat from the chicken skin dropped on the coals, it would help the heat along. But it didn’t.

My mind filled with open ended questions, but no answers at all. The trauma of cold coals was only a problem. Having no way to express that trauma was a much bigger problem.

An hour or two later, after a tearful phone call with a friend who is all about empathy, love, and light, I felt like together we had created enough emotional space between myself and the chicken to try again.

God grant me the wisdom to know the difference.

I emptied the now cold coals into a metal pan, and set them aside for a while, just to be sure, before putting them in the garbage can.

This time, I dumped twice as many coals, and mercilessly lit every single one of them, burning my fingers and cursing as I went. God heard what I was saying, but more importantly God heard what I wasn’t saying.

Did you know that one practical tool that can really help with getting charcoal going is a blow dryer? Yes, I know. It’s a brilliant idea. Thank you very much. I thought of it myself.

The charcoal apparently had a very difficult time feeling what it was supposed to feel, and I had to learn how to help it along.

The only problem was that the electrical cord wasn’t quite long enough. So I nudged the grill with my slippered foot, being careful not to let it overturn, until it was about twelve inches from the doorway. I aimed the blow dryer at the grill and turned it on. With the hot wind whirling around the embers, the coals no longer felt minimized and were shortly glowing a glorious bright red. The chicken sizzled when I placed it on the grill. This was a good sign. The coals were good enough after all, with the proper care and attention, and this time, the chicken reacted appropriately. There was no longer an energy deficit. Things were finally happening.

Then the smoke alarm sounded.

I used my blow dryer to direct some fresh clean air toward the alarm. It protested briefly, and then went back to its haphazard, nonchalant disconnectedness. The fire was under control. It was a false alarm.

Twenty five minutes later, I enjoyed some delicious grilled chicken. It wasn’t the best chicken ever in the history of grilled chicken, but it was delicious. My success was delicious.

Now, I know that in the future, I will bravely buy the chicken. I am empowered to grill.

  • Mary Vanderplas November 14, 2017 at 5:44 am

    Wow. Stepping out, taking on new roles, new challenges, learning to cope with disappointments and failures, honoring your emotions, baring your soul to another caring human being, not giving up, seeking new ways of doing things when the old ways don’t work, delighting and taking pride in a brainchild, claiming and savoring the taste of success, being emboldened for more challenges…..all around the experience of grilling chicken. Who would have dreamed it could be?

    Thanks for sharing your experience. What a delightful and meaning-packed telling. Thank you. Onward and upward in your new life!

  • Alice Spicer November 14, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    Right now, it’s one step forward, two steps back. I’m sure in time it will be better. I try to focus more on the steps forward than the ones back. Thanks so much for your love and support.

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